What a week! The camping trip was wonderful and tough at the same time. As I mentioned previously, G&E&B camped separately from me (for logistical reasons that made perfect sense but would take a while to explain) -- we were about 20 minutes apart walking distance, at a huge festival with lots of activities, classes and parties in the evenings. I was camped with other friends. Gia's mom and dad stayed at a hotel nearby and visited the campgrounds during the day to help with Bee.
I had a full but flexible schedule. We rarely specifically made plans to hang out, but I usually ran into them at least once a day and stopped to spend time with them when that happened. Several times I walked them back up to their campsite and then hung out to help out with things. Once we met up at a party in the evening (G&E had left Bee with Gia's parents for a few hours, the first time they've both been away from him), and once they met me at my camp with the baby in tow and chilled for a bit. Usually they were too tired to stay out past dark, but they did manage to get out and about every day.
Spending time in the company of Gia's parents was interesting. They were very polite and friendly to me, which was awesome.
We also got time away from them, usually at G&E's camp. Gia and I had a couple of very long, significant conversations, with Eric generally doing his own thing in the background, quietly interjecting every once in a great while.
The first big talk started because I noticed that when I'd offer to walk them back to camp or to help with something, Gia would often say something like "oh, you really don't need to" or "we won't be much fun" or something else polite but discouraging. I couldn't tell if she was just being nice or if she didn't want me around. It was starting to freak me out, so I brought it up.
"Y'know," I said, "I don't need it to be fun."
"Our time together. I don't need you to entertain me or anything. I genuinely want to be here and help out. Your life is pretty hard and frustrating sometimes these days, and I don't plan to skip out on that. It would be so easy to just slip out of your life right now and I don't want to do that."
And we went from there. Basically, she felt uncomfortable about accepting so much from me, and worried that it was too unbalanced. She explained that accepting help is a form of trust, and that she has major trust issues. That while we've certainly grown a lot together as a couple, there are things she can relax about and show Eric that she still doesn't feel she can show me yet. Having another person around can be an added burden on her attention and time, even if they don't want to be and especially if she cares about them, so having me there can make things harder in one way even if I'm helping in another.
We ended that conversation with me asserting that 1) I get to decide if I'm comfortable with what I'm putting into the equation (although she doesn't have to accept it), 2) I won't be upset if she tells me she needs time away from me and would much rather have that clarity than feel like an imposition, and 3) I understand that letting me in is a big trust thing and that I appreciate all the work she's doing to try to do that. I asked her to please tell me if she wants space from me for any reason at any time, but not to push me away for my own good.
INTENSE. Phew. I felt like I needed a nap and some cookies after that one.
I think I'll leave it at this for now and post a little follow-up later.